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Commonwealth Youth Workers Conference starts at Unisa

Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mandla Makhanya

It’s full speed ahead for the inaugural Commonwealth Conference on Education and Training of Youth Workers (CCETYW 2013) taking place at Unisa from 18 to 20 March 2013. Various international speakers from Ireland, Australia and the UK, amongst others, have arrived on campus to share experiences and lessons learnt on developing strategies to recognise youth work as a profession.

Hosted by the South African Government in partnership with the Commonwealth Africa Regional Centre, Unisa and NYDA under the theme Towards the professionalisation of youth work, CCETYW 2013 is based on the foundation that youth development practice is a profession like any other and therefore must be streamlined in order to meet the standards required for any profession.

Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mandla Makhanya, welcomed delegates and thanked the Office of the President of South Africa, the National Youth Development Agency and the Commonwealth Regional Secretariat for identifying Unisa as a fitting and strategic partner to host the Conference.

Welcoming delegates to Unisa, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya emphasised that the university sought to strengthen the partnership with the Commonwealth community and government in order to improve the education of young people and their employability. “We pride ourselves,” he said, “as an institution that provides opportunities to students in and out of employment, and support them to qualify in their chosen programmes of study in a flexible and effective manner. As Africa’s most productive university, Unisa accounts for 12.8% of all degrees conferred in South Africa.”

The VC also emphasised that Unisa had offered the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Diploma in Youth Development Work (DYD) to provide education and training of youth workers for more than a decade, and said that it currently had an enrolment of about 3 711 students.

National Youth Development Agency Chief Executive, Mr Steven Ngubeni

Dr M Qhobela, Vice-Principal: Institutional Development, Unisa

James Odit, CYP Director Centre for Africa Region

Ms Katherine Ellis, Director and Head of the The Youth Affairs Division of the Commonwealth

According to National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) CEO Steven Ngubeni, who delivered the CCETYW 2013 keynote address on behalf of Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, South Africa has been on the road towards professionalising youth work for quite some time. “We therefore have lessons to share and we are equally open to learn from the wealth of experiences from our counterparts representing various countries in this conference. We hope that the lessons learnt from this conference will help deal with pertinent common issues facing youth workers globally.”

As many as 500 delegates from the 54 Commonwealth member states, including South Africa, are expected to attend the conference, where they will be provided with a platform to deliberate on issues relating to their work and chart a way forward for ensuring recognition of youth work as a professional practice.

The delegates are drawn from youth development networks in governments, non-governmental organisations, institutions of higher learning, youth workers associations, and youth development agencies.

CCETYW 2013 includes plenary and parallel workshop sessions covering a variety of relevant themes, including the education and training of youth workers, recognition of prior learning and continuous professional development, standardisation of the youth work curriculum in the Commonwealth, building and sustaining a strong front through the formation of professional youth work associations, and promoting youth work through national youth policies and programmes.

The discussions will look into current qualifications offerings, curriculums of youth-work studies, national and international recognition of youth work, employment opportunities for youth workers, and their conditions of service.

A highlight of CCETYW 2013 will be a special opening address delivered by President Jacob Zuma on 19 March.

Written by Achieve Ubisi and Martin Ramotshela

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